Digital transformation is at the forefront of marketers' minds as they rush to reshape, reorganize, and restructure their strategy in the wake of the pandemic's worldwide disruption.
Businesses are seeing the need to modernize their tech stacks and change tactics to meet the needs of the increasingly digital customer. Big organizational changes will also be required for businesses to survive this era of revenue reckoning—changes such as unifying the efforts of Sales, Marketing, and IT into one cohesive revenue-generating team.
Why Does Unification Need to Happen?
Today's buyer expects a seamless, omnichannel experience, even in B2B markets. That means customers want to jump from self-service to human engagement and back again without ever slowing down to repeat information or restate preferences.
Such a zig-zagging path does not align with traditional sales and marketing funnels, so businesses must adapt if they are to thrive.
Moreover, true unification between Sales, Marketing, and IT allows for more balanced resources and coherent experiences for buyers, and it provides common interdepartmental goals that tie back to revenue objectives.
What Does Unification Look Like?
Companies still in the emerging phase of marketing maturity may have trouble picturing what such a unified future will look like. Many organizations in that phase are still mastering foundational marketing elements such as segmentation and lead sources, and they are developing strategies such as using first-touch or last touch-attribution to start moving toward more advanced measurements.
Successfully integrated sales and marketing teams have comprehensive customer profiles that provide an overview of every touchpoint on customers' buying journey. They understand the relevant metrics for both parties, and collaboratively focus their efforts on generating top-funnel demand.
Respondents in a recent ClickDimensions benchmark survey who identified as having aligned or unified sales and marketing teams reported investing further in marketing because their aligned goals boosted their confidence in their return on marketing investment.
How Do We Get There?
Industry experts agree that Sales, Marketing, and IT collaboration enables business growth. However, imagining a unified future is useless without clear steps on how to get there.
To keep up with the modern buyer's expectations, teams must reorganize their efforts around the customer's journey. That will require a frictionless exchange of data, clear and concise communication, and the support of a robust, integrated tech stack.
Step 1. Discover where you are in the marketing maturity framework
In its simplest definition, marketing maturity is the move from a seller-centric to a buyer-centric approach to marketing. Companies on the lower spectrum of the maturity scale tend to be more project-focused, whereas those at the higher end are drivers of strategic growth.
Once businesses have a realistic view of where they fall and the attributes of their marketing tactics, they can make optimizations to support a unification goal.
Step 2. Look at your data and establish a single source of truth
Sales and Marketing collect lots of customer data, but it's traditionally been kept separate in programs that don't communicate with each other, causing holes in customer profiles for both departments and a repeat and re-entry of data that leaves it open to error.
To overcome those obstacles and create complete pictures of customer profiles, a single source of truth must be established. That is a single pool of data where all collected information is stored, sorted, and shared. All players have access to it and can find what they need.
It's critical to not only keeping teams on the same page but also opening the door for more meaningful customer personalization, which is essential in today's digital landscape.
Step 3. Communicate
Once a single data source is established, turn your attention to communication. Unifying business functions that have a history of working separately can be challenging on the personnel front. That's why communication and input from all sides are crucial to success.
Identify employees who can work across departments, involve them in strategic decisions, and seek their feedback as you work toward unification. Their participation will be vital to maintaining alignment and getting other departments on board.
Step 4. Embrace technology
Technology is fundamental to the success of unification. To establish a single source of truth and share data freely, your marketing and sales tech stacks must be able to communicate with one another easily.
It may be possible to connect current systems through APIs and software integrations, but a simpler option is to get software that supports both sales and marketing functions. The more you integrate tools that track lead creation from many sources through pipeline to close, the easier it will be to use analytics for revenue generation.
The martech and sales tech landscapes have grown exponentially over the last couple of years, which means there are more solutions than ever to help teams reach their revenue goals. However, it also means teams must be more aligned in their technology strategy, and the exact capabilities needed to propel those strategies forward.
A Unified Future
In today's digital-first era of buying and selling, it's more important than ever to have solutions that foster interdepartmental unification, tie marketing and sales activities directly to the bottom line, and provide real-time performance indicators.
Taking it a step further, the industry is increasingly stepping away from disparate systems and pieces of software and demanding complete revenue marketing solutions that support holistic business objectives.
As businesses learn to adapt to new challenges and cater to emerging customer demands, true interdepartmental unification is a critical first step.
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